College of Agriculture


Robert Wallace

 The biography of Robert Wallace reads as a testimony to hard work, community service, lifelong learning, and love of family. Throughout his varied career, Bob Wallace was at different stages a merchant marine, youth supervisor, mechanic, contractor, plumber, electrician, and teacher.

Bob's dedication to his community and to serving others was evident in how he spent his time during World War II. As an agriculture teacher at Orland Joint Union High School at the time, Bob established night school classes for local farmers to fabricate and repair their steel equipment. During that same time he helped the war effort by building and running the cannery in Orland that helped women save money by canning their own fruit.

After the war, Bob taught ag mechanics at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for four years, but with an unwavering belief that raising their children on a farm would teach desired life values, Bob and his wife, Irene, moved their family back to an 80-acre dairy in Orland in 1951. They lived, worked, and raised their children—Joan, Jan, Bob, and Bill—there for 20 years.

In 1955 Bob was tapped by Loren Phillips and the new agriculture department at Chico State College to help build the program. During the next 22 years he was very active and a strong leader, working closely with students and faculty. Under his supervision, construction and rural electrification students built 15 auxiliary buildings on the University Farm. Students repeatedly sought out Bob Wallace as an instructor because he brought applied expertise to his classes. Whether it was rural electrification, construction classes, pouring concrete, animal husbandry, or plant science, Bob had successfully made a living applying these skills to his work in the private sector.

When Bob retired in 1977, he continued to work in agriculture, running an almond operation in Durham that he and his wife had purchased in 1971. Bob built a new home and would continue to manage and work the orchard in partnership with their daughter Jan, her husband, Pete, and their three boys, until his death in 1994.

Never expecting more of others than he did of himself, Bob Wallace was a mentor and father to not only his own four children and nine grandchildren, but to all who had the honor and privilege of knowing him. By his example he taught love of family, industry, self-motivation, giving one's best at all times, a kindness and concern for his fellow human, integrity, and the satisfaction of accomplishment.